Shop talk: Alan Ball

'True Blood' mastermind takes bad with the good

Shop Talk with Showrunners
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse | Tina Fey and Robert Carlock | Brad Falchuk | Jeff Schaffer | Alan Ball | Vince Gilligan | Steven Levitan | Greg Daniels | Robert King | Clyde Phillips

Your biggest regret?
I don’t really have any career regrets. I’ve learned from everything that’s happened, good or bad.

Your biggest fight with the network?
We really never fight, but during the first season, there was a scene from the pilot that we had shot in California (that) they wanted to reshoot in Louisiana, and I felt it wasn’t necessary. And I won.

Your favorite moment as a showrunner?
There were several: Maryann getting gored by the bull, the pie she made out of Daphne’s heart, and when Godric met the sun.

Worst fan reaction?
Somebody sent me a pretty snarky critique on Facebook, but I just deleted it.

Your hardest decision as showrunner?
Whenever you have to fire somebody, that’s a really hard decision.

Your best collaborative moment on the set or with a network?
Stephen (Moyer) told me he played piano, and we wrote a flashback scene going back to the 1920s when he was a lounge singer to let him do it.

Your favorite “happy accident” in writing or producing the show?
Nelsan Ellis has a pretty genius improv moment in every show, so they are too numerous to name.

Common assumption that’s wrong?
That all showrunners are control freaks. Most are, but I don’t think I am. But maybe others think I am — you’d have to ask them.

“I wanted to give up when …”
I’ve never wanted to give up.

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